Monday, May 22, 2017

“Being The Good Guy” - an interview with Laurence Dobiesz by your Aussie Blogging Lass

Any Outlander fan can tell you that there are three important Randall men in Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series. In the Starz TV adaptation, two of these men - the notorious Black Jack of the 18th century and Claire’s 20th century husband, Frank - are portrayed by the one actor, Tobias Menzies. But what of the third Randall, Black Jack’s younger brother, Alex? Although the total opposite to his brother in personality, Alex is the spitting image of him physically - a fact that initially had fans wondering if Tobias Menzies would end up playing all 3 roles. This idea was quickly dismissed by Outlander producers, but when publicity photos of Alex Randall started to appear, many fans commented on the uncanny physical similarities between Menzies and the newly cast Laurence Dobiesz. From photographs alone, the family connection between the two men was totally believable. So what was it like to bring the kind-hearted Randall brother to life? Luckily for us here at Outlander Homepage, Laurence Dobiesz agreed to chat to us about the process. 

By Outlander Homepage Originals, Susie Brown

It seems that acting has always been in Laurence’s blood.

“Acting kind of chose me,” he explained. “From a very early age I was an incorrigible show off, the shortest guy at nursery school with the loudest voice! My first role was as Oliver in the West End production of Oliver. It’s still the best fun I’ve had as an actor for sure.”

Jumping forward in time to his Outlander audition, Laurence was definitely given a memorable introduction to his intended character’s family history. 

“I hadn’t seen the show before I got the audition, so I watched a couple of episodes to prepare,” he explained. “They just happened to be the ‘whipping’ episode and the ‘prison’ episode - so I was pretty scarred after that!”

Fortunately, Laurence wasn’t deterred from joining the Randall family, and once cast, quickly set about creating his character! We wondered if there was any collaboration with Tobias Menzies when it came to displaying common mannerisms between the brothers. 

“As it happened, my mannerisms - in terms of vocal and physical things - were close enough to Tobias’ that I didn’t have to worry too much about that, “ Laurence said. “So I just concentrated on creating Alex as his own character. After all, Jack and Alex are not twins and are very, very different…”

One of these differences was the health of the two men. While Jack displayed the ability to survive a stampede of wild beasts at the end of season 1, Alex’s health deteriorated with each appearance in season 2. Surely this brought its own challenges? 

“ It was definitely demanding during those final scenes,” Laurence agreed. “However that’s the stuff you want to do as an actor, so the slightly sore throat was well worth it.”

When asked for a favourite scene, Laurence found it hard to pick just one.  

“Being in a heavy scene with the likes of Cat, Tobias and Rosie was a joy,” he said. “Is joy the right word? Maybe a demanding, sore joy!” 

The major characters of Black Jack, Jamie and Claire are well established by the time Alex  Randall appears on screen. We wondered what it was like to join the set as the ‘new kid on the block’.

“The Outlander set is run like a tight (tall) ship,” Laurence explained, “but unlike many sets I’ve been on, they manage to keep it fun and friendly. As a new character on the show or as a less seasoned actor, this is such a relief as it makes you feel at home right away. My stint on the show was fairly short, but the camaraderie and the little world they’ve created at the studio made me feel part of a family, and that fuzzy feeling still remains.”

So did he take anything else home with him, other than these fuzzy feelings? 

“ I’d like to say I kept a memento from set,” Laurence replied,  “but all I managed to pilfer were a set of curtain ties that matched mine at home. What can I say, I’m a badass!”

If given the opportunity to do a bit of time travel himself, it turns out that Laurence wouldn’t venture too far into the past. 

“I would travel to 1970s Liverpool,” he said, “so that I could watch the Liverpool team of the time at Anfield - and across Europe! They were good days for the Reds!” 

Finally, we asked Laurence what is coming up next in his career. 

“I have been busy writing a few things,” he replied, “ including a sports comedy screenplay and a TV sitcom which I’m writing with my wife. Acting-wise, I’m about to record my first radio drama for the BBC. And then of course, I’ll return as the cockney music hall star ‘Randy’ Randall, the great great grandson of Alex, in Outlander Season Four. (OK, one of the above isn’t true....”)

We’d like to thank Laurence for chatting with us and look forward to his next collaborations, whether factual or fictional! 

This interview was conducted by Susie Brown, a teacher-librarian and children’s writer who lives in Australia. Personally, she’d love to see the character of ‘Randy’ Randall - and wonders what his music hall act would be!

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